I’ve read these message boards for years as a candidate and I never really felt compelled to post anything, but after passing Level 3 last year and earning my CFA, I thought I’d share my experience. I doubt I’ll check these boards much going forward (why would I?), but I was curious to see what people were saying just a few weeks left until the exams. It’s the 1st Spring I am study-free in years!
The CFA exams are brutal. I passed Level 1 on the 1st attempt, Level 2 on the 2nd attempt, and Level 3 on the third attempt. I have no secret sauce to share…just study hard and see what works for you.
I spent 6.5 years in equity research at a middle market investment bank and I have spent the past 1.5 years at a $2B aum long-only asset manager on the investment team. When I joined my current shop, my boss/PM made it clear that he wanted me to finish the CFA (I passed levels 1 and 2 at that point). I was the only one on the investment team without an IVY league MBA or CFA. My title was also “equity analyst” when all other analysts had the title of “senior equity analyst.”
As soon as I passed Level 3 and was awarded the charter, I talk to my boss and he gives me the title of “senior equity analyst” and a $20k raise (my base salary was already in the six-figures).
Bottom-line: I’m getting paid more as a direct result of passing the CFA! I interviewed with many other buy-side shops and experience is what they valued…not whether I had passed any level of the CFA. The hardest part was making the move to the buy-side from the sell-side. Most places I interviewed with (including CR Intrinsic/SAC, Surveyor/Citadel) ended up hiring folks with prior buy-side experience.
Congrats, for a well deserved raise. Your bottom-line (and many more similar posting on AF in the past ) reinforces five realities of today’s career growth in investment and finance field in general :
1 Perseverance pays for acquiring any professional qualification. In particular, CFA may be difficult (brutal – as you say) but with dedication and focus to obtain the Charter it is not unattainable. It not only tests your mastery of the curriculum but also your patience and stamina ;
No qualification, can go totally waste, one will get the rewards / returns sooner or later;
Relevant experience is much more valued and recognised than any qualification in the area (specially in investment and finance or any other technical profession). The 4 year experience in the related field to get the Charter takes care of that to some extent but specialised experience is still an asset for a change or new job;
The reward is given for higher qualification gained thro’ sheer hard work (or any other enhanced performance than the cohort) only when one is able to make the most of it by flaunting it at the right time, at right place and of course at the right platform. In today’s competitive world you have to often ‘beat your own drum’ to get even the due reward or recognition ;
Top-10 or Ivy league MBA may give you some benefit in investment or even finance field but is neither a prerequisite nor essential for progress and growth . In fact for investment field after CFA any MBA is more of ornamental in nature than a real ‘strength’ (many may disagree but that is what I feel and your case preoves too).